If you have cruised along the Barnegat Bay, chances are you have met Jerry Golembeski. He was the captain of Ocean County's very first pumpout boat. After 14 years of service under his watchful eye, he's retiring.

The Ocean County Freeholders recently saluted him during a Freeholder meeting. He tells us he's learned a lot during his time on the water.

What does a pumpout boat do? What is a pumpout boat captain? It's not the nicest sounding of jobs. In fact, that old saying "it's a dirty job but someone's gotta do it" really does work in this case. The boats help pump human waste out of boat toilet holding tank as part of the effort to reduce bacteria in the ailing watershed. Golembeski was on board with it from the very beginning when officials commissioned the very first one back in 1998.

Golembeski says "my have things changed over the years. I am definitely noticing a surge in population and a swell in interest regarding the Bay. In the past, many of the boaters originated from the south area like Forked River and as far down as Tuckerton. Now boaters are coming from all areas in Ocean County especially from the north."

His boat was called the Circle of Life and it was the first. There are now a total of five in the fleet. It's something that the Freeholders and Golembeski are quite proud of.

He says "when I first started, I had no idea what one of these pumpout boats were. Over time, I became better educated with the tasks I had to do plus information on the Bay itself. I spent a lot of time with experts and marine scientists along the water and picked up a few things."

Over the past few years, the number of jellyfish and algae blooms have increased. Golembeski says he worries about the Bay and the health but "I'm glad there's so much interest in helping it."

Golembeski isn't sure yet what he will do next but says he's enjoying retirement.

For more information on the program, visit planning.co.ocean.nj.us/coastal.htm